Deconstructing the "mail-order bride": An analysis of controlling images in contemporary Asian female marriage-migration
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Asian women who migrate to the United States for marriage have been sexually objectified through the use of controlling images. In the late-1800s, Asian marriage-migrants were depicted as erotically submissive through the china doll trope, and described as corrupted schemers through the dragon lady image. These tropes imply a subtext of an emasculated and cunning Asian masculinity, also known through the Fu Manchu figure. Anti-immigrant forces used a yellow peril rhetoric in the 1900s that was supported by these images to justify racist discrimination. My project is interested in finding traces of these Asian American controlling images in current representation of "mail-order brides", and argues that these images continue to discriminate marriage-migrants today through the U.S. immigration policies. Contemporary female Asian marriage migration is most commonly known as "mail-order brides". The consistent depiction of marriage-migrants in news reports reflect a whore narrative that eroticize Asian women sexuality, and describes them as immoral and deceitful. The whore narrative is supported by four dominant characteristics: a horror narrative, objectification of marriage-migrants, femininity stereotypes, and the manipulative bride. These discourses mirror long-standing Asian American tropes that developed earlier in the late-1800s. These assumptions are also reflected in current immigration policies that continue to marginalize Asian women who migrate for marriage. Hence, my project calls for a rethinking of the "mail-order bride", and the centralizing of their experiences and motivations for future research direction.